Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Delaware Handicap News & Notes

Focused on the Delaware Handicap

Wilmington, Del., July 15, 2013 — With a divisional lead at stake and a $750,000 purse and Grade I opportunity on the line, the mile-and-a-quarter Delaware Handicap is being targeted by the top connections in North America. But before any of the 14 nominees punch a ticket on travel plans to be in Stanton, Delaware, for the filly and mare summer classic this Saturday, they are waiting to see the weight assignments, which are scheduled to be released later today.

Two that have made tentative plans are Robert Zoelher's She's All In and Darley Stable's Centring.

She's All In, a 6-year-old daughter of Include, has 14 wins, seven seconds and three thirds from 34 starts, with earnings of $841,502. In her most recent, the Oklahoma-bred conditioned by Donnie Von Hemel finished third in the Grade II Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs on June 15. Previously, she was unplaced in the Grade I Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park on April 12. Last year, she won the Grade III Sixty Sails Handicap by 8 3/4 lengths at Hawthorne, which became an important factor in targeting the Delaware Handicap this year.

"We are making plans to come.," said trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel from his barn at Churchill Downs yesterday. "We have always wanted to try her at the mile and a quarter, and the last couple of years we have certainly given the race serious consideration, but for various reasons, like who is in the race, the timing and the travel, we just have not made it. But this year, we are probably going to go ahead and give it a try. This is her last year of racing, and you do not get an opportunity to run at a mile and a quarter for this kind of money and you certainly do not get the opportunity to run in a mile and a quarter Grade I very often with a mare. We have been very happy with her since the Fleur de Lis. That race was at a mile and an eighth, and the best race in her life was at a mile and an eighth in the Sixty Sails at Hawthorne, which can be a deep and tiring racetrack. I hear from people that Delaware can be that ways some times as well, so that would be in our favor. We have not nailed down any travel plans because I am waiting for the weights, but we will probably be there mid-week, and we will probably try to gallop over the track a time or two. She is a very professional race horse, so we would not need to be in Delaware for a long time to prepare for the race."

The combination of peaking at the right time and a pedigree perfect for the classic distance on the dirt has the connections of Centring looking at the Delaware Handicap as an opportunity for her to take her game to the next level. In her last, the 5-year-old daughter of A.P. Indy out of a Touch Gold broodmare finished third in Grade I Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park on May 27. In her only other two outings this year, the Kentucky-bred trained by Thomas Albertrani ran second and fourth in pair of allowance races at Gulfstream Park.

"We are leaning toward coming for the Delaware Handicap," said Albertrani from his barn at Belmont Park yesterday. "We did not really know where she was leading us this year, but after her last race, it really had us thinking about the Delaware Handicap, especially since she ran so well. We also know she wants to go much longer, so the mile and a quarter should really suit her to a tee. She really stepped her game up in her most recent start, the Phipps, so that is why we are willing to take another chance with her and step her up a little more in meeting Grade I top company again. Combine that with running a little bit longer and we think this should be a good opportunity. We breezed her a couple of days ago, so she will be galloping right up to the race. We plan on shipping down the morning of the race, so she will just stay at Belmont until that time."

Last year, she broke her maiden and notched an allowance victory from five starts. She did not race as a 3-year-old, and as a 2-year-old she raced twice.

"As a 2-year-old, she had a minor issue behind, so we just gave her some time," Albertani said. "She came back into training and the problem recurred, so we gave her some more time. We always thought highly of her, and we always felt she was going to be a useful filly, so we decided to give her plenty of time so we could give her an opportunity to come into herself as an older horse, and it really paid off well."

The top two from the Delaware Handicap last year are expected to meet again. The connections of Royal Delta, the 2012 champion filly or mare and defending Del 'Cap champion, and Tiz Miz Sue, the recent winner of the Grade I Ogden Phipps at Belmont Park and second in the Del 'Cap last year, also have the race under consideration. Others considering the Delaware Handicap are And Why Not, recently second in the prep for the Del 'Cap, the Grade III Obeah Stakes; Onepointhreekarats, the winner of the Winter Melody Stakes and second in the John Rooney Memorial both at Delaware Park; Funny Proposition, the recent winner of the Grade II Fleur de Lis at Churchill Downs; Lady Samuri, a recent $10,000 claim who has won four straight, including a $75,000 stake; and Summer Applause, the recent winner of the Grade III duPont Distaff at Pimlico on May 18. The post position draw for the Delaware Handicap is slated for Wednesday.

This year, is the first time the Delaware Handicap has carried a Grade I status since 1989. Since the race was inaugurated in 1937, 25 champions have placed in the race, including Fleet Indian, Relaxing, Our Mims, Susan’s Girl, Cicada and Parlo. Last year, Royal Delta won the Del 'Cap before being named the 2012 filly or mare champion, and in 2011 Havre de Grace ran second, beaten a nose, to Blind Luck in the Del 'Cap before being named Horse of the Year.

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